UAB panel discusses COVID-19: FDA Pfizer approval, booster shots and third doses


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WHNT) – In a news conference Monday morning a panel of health officials with UAB discussed the latest COVID-19 news, vaccinations and the full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine.

Federal health officials plan to offer COVID-19 booster shots, starting as early as next month, if approved by the FDA. According to discussions between health officials, the amount of time in between your full vaccine series and your booster shot would be after the eight-month mark.

Dr. Paul Goepfert, Director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic, says getting a booster shot before the eight-month period is not recommended. He added the shot would not be as effective, because the immune system needs a rest between vaccine shots.

“You get a better boost, so it will be very important for people to listen to the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) and listen to the final recommendation. Not jump the gun in getting your boost too early because you may be doing yourself a disservice,” Dr. Goepfert said.

Some are wondering what’s the difference between the booster shot and a third dose of the vaccine, “From the standpoint of the product, there is no difference,” according to Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

While Dr. Landers says there’s a difference in the application of a third covid-19 vaccine shot and a booster shot, there’s no difference in the makeup of the vaccine. A third dose applies specifically to immunocompromised people.

“The dose that persons take that have underlying problems that might lend themselves to less optimal immune response,” Dr. Landers told News 19.

Right now, the ADPH has authorization for this third or additional dose. Meanwhile, the booster shot will be recommended for those who are otherwise healthy and fully vaccinated, but the ADPH doesn’t have guidance from the CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices yet.

“We expect that guidance later on in the month of September, potentially it could come before then, but again until the ACIP and the CDC provide that information we are not giving boosters,” Dr. Landers said.

Because boosters have not yet been discussed in guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the health department clinics are not giving booster shots. However, since the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, some locations may start administering boosters to people.

At this moment, those who would be receiving their booster shot would have received their second dose back in December or January.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, will meet on August 30th and 31st to review its recommendations for the vaccine, but while there has been no set guidance.

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